Latest posts by Lisa Beebe (see all)
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Starting your first “real” job after college can be nerve-wracking. You want to make a good impression on your coworkers while avoiding any newbie mistakes. Like A Boss Girls can’t be there to hold your hand as you walk through the door, but we’ve got a few tips that might work just as well.
Be flexible. When you start a new job, do your best to have an open mind. You’ll probably be doing things you’ve never done before. Your boss might want things done in a different way than you would do them yourself—and that’s okay. You might have to work with people who are very different from you and your friends. Chance are, some of your coworkers will be people you don’t even like. Remind yourself that you’re all on the same team, and ultimately working toward the same goals.
Be professional. Show up on time, and make sure you’re not the first one out the door at the end of the day. Keep your lunch breaks to the allotted time. Dress like you belong there. (If you’re not sure what to wear on the first day, check in with human resources or the person who hired you for guidance.) Once you’ve started, take a look at what your coworkers and bosses wear on a daily basis, and try to keep your outfits in the same range. Also, keep your voice professional when you communicate with coworkers. Whether you’re talking out loud or sending an email, avoid swear words and unnecessary abbreviations.
Be organized. Keep your desktop (both real and virtual) in order. Make a schedule for completing your projects on time, and do your best to stick to it. Read and answer your email in a timely manner. Set up a filing system to keep track of your digital files and save each project with a name that makes it easy to find again. You never know when you’ll need to go back an update an old project, and your coworkers will expect you to have the files handy.
Take notes. Bring a notebook to work, and write things down—even things you think you’ll remember. If someone gives you instructions on how to do a new task, write them down so you can refer back to them. Taking notes in a meeting can also help you remember people’s names.
Ask questions. If you’re not sure how to accomplish a task, don’t try to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Ask a coworker or your immediate supervisor to show you how things are done. (If you have a technical question about how to use a computer program, you might be able to find a tutorial online, and teach yourself.) If you have several things to work on, and you’re not sure which project takes priority, check in with your boss. When you finish what you’re working on, speak up! Let your boss know you’re ready for a new project. The day passes much faster if you keep yourself busy, and you’ll keep the boss happy, too.
If you make a mistake, admit it. Nobody expects a new employee to be perfect from day one, but if you try to hide a mistake, it may end up causing larger problems down the line. It’s okay to screw up once in a while, especially if you learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistake more than once.
Make work friends. Get to know your colleagues and be willing to network. Introduce yourself to the people who sit near you and be friendly. Ask a few coworkers to lunch. If your company has a picnic or is getting together for drinks to celebrate someone’s birthday, go. That said, remember that there’s a difference between work friends and regular friends. Leave your personal life at home, at least when it comes to the juicy stuff. Don’t get involved in office gossip. Instead, focus on your own first-hand interactions. If you do go out for drinks with coworkers, limit how much alcohol you consume. Never get drunk at a work event.
Get to know the corporate culture. Every workplace is different. In a very casual work environment, it might be fine to show up in flip-flops, decorate your desk with toys, check Facebook, or end a text to your boss with a cat emoji. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate in your office, follow your coworkers’ lead.
Find a mentor. Get to know someone at the company who’s more experienced than you are. That person can help answer questions, introduce you to people who matter, and give you advice on how to take your career to the next level. After all, you won’t be the new girl forever. Soon, you’ll be the one newbies turn to for guidance.